Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Please Don't Say You're Sorry

At this point, I think I'm kind of a professional at this cancer survival thing. I've been doing it for so long that it can be hard to remember how it felt to live without it. I'm really proud of myself for doing all that has been necessary for me to survive this long. I have no problem saying that I have accomplished more with my body than almost anyone I know (except some of my amazing sisters and brothers in the disability community).

Becoming committed to surviving cancer was not an easy feat. Dealing with other people's reaction to my cancer was one of the things that made it an especially difficult process. When the people around you are treating you like you're already on death's door, it can be hard to see past the fatalism. If I had a dime for every person that said "I'm so sorry" or "Poor baby!" when they found out I had cancer, I'd be richer than Bill Gates.

Oh, I know they meant well. It's just that I think that's those are among the absolute worse reactions one can have, but I don't think most people realize this. Feeling sorry for someone isn't doing them any favors and, personally, I don't think cancer is anything to feel sorry about. I think that's the wrong thing to focus on.

Fortunately, cancer isn't an automatic death sentence any more. For many folks, it can simply be something they have to live with, like diabetes or astigmatism or asthma. Feeling sorry is a waste of resources that could be used to gather your resolve to face a new reality. Really, that's all having cancer is--a new reality for the individual survivor and their loved ones.


Rootietoot said...

When Dad was diagnosed with colon ancer, my mother freaked. Dad, being a veterinarian and having a good grasp on all things medical, said "ok now what" and that's how we all dealt with it, except for holding Mom's hand, while she freaked(that was my job). I am convinced Dad's attitude is a big part of what pulled him through the whole thing, even the bits he made a joke of. Since it was colon cancer, and his lower colon'rectum was involved, he kinda...became this old man...who sorta...farted. All The Time. Rather thn beating his chest and moaning, he joked. Then we joked, then the grandchildren made a joke of Grampa Farts. Mom was mortified, but having a certain sort of attitude carried the day, then the month and now 2 years. They say laughter is the best medicine, and I believe it.

Liz Miller said...


But when I say, "I'm sorry" I mean, "I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it. I'm sorry it came to you."

Myrwin said...

Newly diagnosed with NSC lung cancer, I'm enjoying your blog.